Happy Halloween 2011!

Happy Halloween! Taking it easy tonight, no trick or treating for us, we've been a bit busy.

For example, our school celebrated Halloween on Friday since we have conferences this week.  I was a bit busy making treats for teachers and our Harvest Fest in the evening.

Halloween skeleton brownies
For teachers and staff, cute skeletons made from Wants And Wishes' easy tutorial...I substituted Little Debbie's Devil Squares for the brownies, and they fit perfectly.

Halloween Chex Mix

For the boy's classroom treats, Chex Mix with candy corn and Count Chocula cereal in glassine bags and cute tombstones from Chickabug.

Halloween plastic fangs
Since the little one's classroom is peanut-free, I decided not to even try it and did a candy-less but just as cute treat...I loved this idea from Love Stitched...fangs with little tags!

Halloween giant dipped marshmallows
Speaking of Harvest Fest, not only did I make giant dipped marshmallows...

Halloween Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory caramel apples
...but after bringing it up for the past 3 years, I finally got to order and sell 125 caramel apples from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  I mean, they are AWESOME and I knew they would do well.  But of course, you never know.  No worries. I sold out of all of them.

Drink Of The Week - Bloody Black Currant Punch/Bleeding Heart Martini

Bloody black currant punch Halloween cocktail
Tomorrow is All Hallow's Eve and I couldn't resist slipping in two more beverage. I know, the name alone makes you want to run out and track down black currant juice.  I hear it's all healthy and stuff, so you could probably find it in the health food section of your grocer or a specialty store like Whole Foods.  Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart and serves 6 to 8.

Bloody Black Currant Punch
1 1/4 cups brandy
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups black currant nectar
1 1/2 cups cold seltzer

1. Stir brandy and sugar in a large bowl. Add nectar; stir to combine.

2. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. Punch can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days. Add seltzer just before serving.

Bleeding Heart Martini Halloween cocktail
Tell me Leona Lewis' song Keep Bleeding isn't running through your head as you read this recipe? The pickled beet "bleeds" from the wound caused by a cocktail spear. Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart and serves 4.

Bleeding Heart Martini
2 ounces dry vermouth
8 ounces premium gin
ice cubes
4 pickled baby beets, each placed on a cocktail skewer

1. Chill 4 martini glasses in the freezer or fill with ice water and let sit until frosty, about 5 minutes (pour out water).

2. Add the vermouth, dividing evenly; swirl to coat the glasses, then pour out. Add gin to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled; divide among chilled glasses.

3. Garnish each with a skewered pickled baby beet, and serve immediately.

Fiesta Friday - My Perfect Winter Party

gift wrapping party ideas
Every year, I alternate between Halloween and Christmas for holiday parties. Since I'm skipping Halloween this year, it means a full Christmas blowout. I love coming up with new party themes, especially since my Christmas parties are just for my gal pals, before the madness of the holidays begin. From Ugly Sweater (or if that offends you, Festive Holidaywear) to Santa's Mustache Bash, they always wonder what I'll have up my sleeve next.

You know how I love sharing my crazy thoughts with you all, so today's post is my inspiration board for this year's theme.  It's something that has been percolating for awhile, especially since I've amassed a ridiculous amount of gift wrapping paper from after Christmas sales...a Gift Wrapping Party!

I know, genius!  Well, it helps that Birthday Girl (now Cake.) has a fabulous one featured on The Sweetest Occasion, so now I'm even more inspired. Why does it have to be a late-night, alone-in-the-kitchen mission? I'm having everyone bring a few unwrapped gifts and check that chore off their Christmas to-do list.

gift wrapping party ideas gift topper ideas
We'll be using lots of fabulous paper, ribbon, tinsel, raffia, stickers, the works. I am going to have a mini workshop on making some great gift toppers, from using foil cupcake liners, making tassels out of tinsel, to  decorating with sequins and using lots of gift bows.

I'm definitely going to be decorating with wrapped boxes and a gift wrap backdrop like  my Cocktails + Cupcakes party;  I'm already saving up boxes! Somehow, I need to incorporate this gift centerpiece from BHG. I can totally see Pottery Barn's small lit mercury glass globes scattered among the presents.

gift wrapping party DIY tinsel garland
I'm also going to try my hand at these tissue garlands from The Sweetest Occasion in my party colors, which will be black with metallic accents.

gift wrapping party appetizers
I just got my hands on Peter Callahan's Bite By Bite: 100 Stylish Little Plates You Can Make for Any Party and it's full of fabulous appetizers, because he believe presentation is everything and I agree. When was the last time you saw mini tacos and mac & cheese look so good?  I can't wait to try a few out at our party. In years past, I've served dessert, but this time, I want to have everyone come over a little earlier so I'll be serving appetizers.

At one of our holiday parties, we had a DIY hot cocoa bar and I so want to do it again, especially with this great whiteware set from Pottery Barn. In fact, I was so short mugs, I had to borrow quite a few.

gift wrapping party ideas veggie display
Of course, I may cave and be all healthy with a fruit, veggie and cheese spread like Esther Kim's featured on Amy Atlas. With all the eating going on from Thanksgiving to New Year's, they may thank me!

And of course, since my favorite part of the party is the favors...well, I can't reveal everything, my guests might be reading! But I imagine they would look something like these from Allora Handmade, wrapped in newspaper and baker's twine. I really love the tags.

Anyone else already thinking about Christmas?

Disclaimer: this blog post is part of the Win Your Perfect Party contest sponsored by GigMasters.  To find out how to enter visit Life of the Party. Vote for me by leaving a comment at the GigMasters' post.

Caramel Apple Creations

I love caramel apples...they are a pain to make but so worth the wait! Check out these creations, too fabulous to eat!

caramel apple creations Amy's gourmet apples
Amy's Gourmet Apples has it all, but this spider one takes

caramel apple creations spider web apples

How about spider webbing from Purple Chocolate Home.

BCA Wednesday - Party Pink

Breast Cancer Awareness month is coming to an end, but that doesn't mean the fight ends.  Women around the world are fighting every day. I lost a dear friend to breast cancer and look forward to the day when we don't lose anyone else.

Despite the mixed feelings about the pink ribbon and what it represents to different people, it's important to focus on the bigger message.  Women need to monitor their own health with monthly self exams and speak with their doctor about other screening options like mammograms if you are of a certain age. Of course, the studies vary on just about every method of screening, there's no win for losing.

To close this series, I thought this guest dessert feature from Harper Event Designs on Amy Atlas was a perfect way to go.

Party Pink Amy Atlas breast cancer 4

Party Pink Amy Atlas breast cancer 3

Party Pink Amy Atlas breast cancer

Party Pink Amy Atlas breast cancer 2

We Go Wednesday (On A Monday) - Trophy Cupcakes Party Room/A Night of WitchCRAFT

I wanted to get this post out since it is filled with Halloween crafty goodness, even though I'm severely behind on so much other stuff to share.  I recently had the pleasure of attending a night of serious crafting at the new party room of Trophy Cupcakes at the Wallingford Center....

....hosted by  Lyndsey of The Stationery Place and Marie of Make And Takes.

The party room and party shop just opened this summer, across from the cupcake shop.  Oh man, check out all those cake platters and vessels!

Trophy Cupcakes party shop

Trophy Cupcakes party shop 2

Trophy Cupcakes party shop
Instead of balloons, you can hang up lots of tissue poms! Alright, back to da partay!

Trophy Cupcakes party shop 3

Trophy Cupcakes party shop cupcakes
Look at all the yumminess we nibbled on and took a few home...

Trophy Cupcakes party shop/party room

Trophy Cupcakes party shop/party room 2

Trophy Cupcakes Night of Witchcraft felt wreath
We made five crafts; a Halloween wreath using felt circles that are folded and pinned to a foam wreath.  I didn't have time to sit and cut out the 120 felt circles needed.  That's a 'sit-in-front-of-the-TV-and-catch-up-on-The-Housewives' job.

Trophy Cupcakes Night of Witchcraft craft pumpkin decorating
Next, decorating a craft pumpkin either with stickers or paint, or both!

Trophy Cupcakes Night of Witchcraft Scrabble tile pendant
Then, Scrabble tile necklaces....I forgot to grab a chain, so these are just the pendants...

Trophy Cupcakes Night of Witchcraft glittery spider ring
The simplest one anyone can do was the glittery ring.  We just brushed a little Mod Podge (you can use glue) over those little plastic rings (mine is a spider, but skulls, bats, any of those will do!), then dipped it into a bowl of superfine glitter.

Trophy Cupcakes Night of Witchcraft spider punch card
And the hardest for me, spider punch cards.  The cards came with holes pre-punched and we were to sew them with black embroidery floss.  I swear it took me 20 minutes trying to thread the needle, and a kind lady did it for me.  Then I was OK, a little cursing here and there, since even simple sewing gives me the jitters.  I

Do you likey my little spider? He's made from yarn and pipe cleaners. Check out the tutorial to make some cuteness for yourself.

Trophy Cupcakes Night of Witchcraft Michelle Paige
Michelle Paige was also there and has another fabulous wrap up with more photos! Here she is all crafty, and behind her looking like she is clutching her pearls is Stephanie of Stephmodo; I met her at my blogger meet up.

There may be a Christmas craft night so stay tuned...

So, I didn't take any pictures of myself, but Marie did another awesome wrap up and a photo with me in it actually exists!  I wonder where I am...

And here I am again, with Lyndsey, with yet, another awesome wrap up!  And you all thought I didn't 'exist'...

We Go Wednesday (On A Saturday) - BrickCon 2011

Before I launch into today's musing, I've got more Halloween fun to share from my Today's Mama post, this time, awesomatic treats guaranteed to make you go ahhh...and maybe a few ewwws...

BrickCon 2011 LEGO convention in Seattle
As you know, I have boys.  Even the dog is a boy.  So, I've embraced the endless light saber duels and 'thermal detonator' references, the bringing of salamanders and other many footed creatures, and of course LEGO. So when I learned about BrickCon, how could we not go? And since it was billed as 'an adult LEGO hobbyist event', you know visions of grown men still living in their mother's basement popped right on in.

Be warned, I took like a gazillion pictures because I've never seen such amazing creations, and this isn't even all of them! And since I'm a bit of a geek, I was seriously geeking out more than my boys.

Oh, and FYI, they are not LEGO blocks, they are bricks.  Don't ask me why I know that, but know it involved a rather uncomfortable moment with a grown man carrying a gun made of LEGO.  See if you can spot him in the pictures.

There was more than a few people dressed up...

BrickCon 2011 LEGO convention

 Yes, those are not pictures, they are made up of bricks.

BrickCon 2011 LEGO castle

Hogwarts and the Quidditch Field in LEGO is bananas!

BrickCon 2011 LEGO Harry Potter

BrickCon 2011 LEGO Harry Potter 2

BrickCon 2011 LEGO Harry Potter 3
What really knocked our socks off was this replica of Saruman's fortress at Isengard from Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers. Yes, you know the scene, where the Ents (AKA the walking trees) destroyed the dam and flooded the fortress. Don't act like you don't kow what I'm talking about!

BrickCon 2011 LEGO Lord Of The Rings Sarumon's Fortress

BrickCon 2011 LEGO Lord Of The Rings Sarumon's Fortress 2

BrickCon 2011 LEGO Lord Of The Rings Sarumon's Fortress 3

BrickCon 2011 LEGO Predator
Yup, Pooh and a Predator.

If you live in the Seattle area or are planning on visiting around early October, BrickCon comes every year.  You can purchase sets, gear, pretty much anything LEGO.  Grown men going on and on about their models is TOTALLY worth the ticket price.  They know how many hours they've worked on them, and tell you in great detail about how their creations have been verified.

Yes, I said verified. You have to build them with particular bricks that have to be verified; for example one young man showed me how the two different grey colors of the bricks showed that they came from different production lines, hence not authentic.   Uh-huh, totally worth the price.

Now that's something you don't see every day...
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